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Trust gets mandate to go to battle with the Crown

Trust gets mandate to go to battle with the Crown

More than 1000 iwi members from an East Coast tribe have given the green light for Te Aitanga A Mahaki Trust to go to battle for them with the Crown over a settlement that could reach up to $120 million.

Over the past two months, the trust has held meetings throughout the country and via an independent poll to determine if iwi members supported it leading negotiations to settle their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, said Willie Te Aho, who is leading the discussions for the tribe.

“It is great to hear that 96.8% of our people who voted, gave the trust the thumbs up and I think this is a reflection of our whanau just wanting us to get on with the business that needs to be done,” said Mr Te Aho.

Mr Te Aho, who has extensive experience in negotiating Treaty settlements, said the trust was being extremely smart about making sure their mandate was tight before getting to the negotiation table with the Crown.

“We need to be smart about this and that includes making sure our mandate is strong and robust, which is one reason why we’re giving our people and our neighbouring iwi the opportunity to let us know what they think about the mandate.”

Submissions on the trust’s Deed of Mandate close May 9 and are being administered by Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa.

In the poll, undertaken by Electionz.com, 95.3% of the iwi members surveyed also voted in favour of the trust and named claimant John Ruru seeking other remedies, including binding recommendations through the Waitangi Tribunal, if negotiations with the Crown became unsatisfactory

In 2004 the Waitangi Tribunal described the claims in Gisborne or Turanga as being “significantly worse” than Taranaki and Waikato. The tribunal specifically found that:

1. A quarter of the adult population was illegally imprisoned on the Chatham Islands;

2. 43 percent of the adult male population of Turanga were killed in war by the Crown;

3. Over 100 Turanga prisoners were illegally executed by the Crown at Ngatapa, a 3rd to half of the number killed by the Crown in war with Turanga Iwi including Te Aitanga a Mahaki. Ngatapa is within the Tribal Area of Te Aitanga a Mahaki.

The Te Aitanga a Mahaki claims are the last claims within Turanga to be settled by the Crown. The Ngai Tamanuhiri (from the Young Nicks Head area) and Rongowhakaata (primary tribe of the Prophet Te Kooti Rikirangi) were settled in 2011.

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